- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2006

AFGHANISTAN

Rocket hits close to U.S. Embassy

KABUL — A massive explosion thought to have been caused by a rocket shook the Afghan capital late yesterday near the U.S. Embassy compound, wounding an Afghan security contractor, officials said.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said the blast did not occur on embassy property, and no Americans were injured. Staff rushed to a bunker in the compound after the 11 p.m. blast.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said the southwest side of the U.S. Embassy’s compound was among the buildings struck in the attack. The blast occurred inside the grounds housing the state-run television offices, a police official at the scene said. The building is next to the heavily fortified embassy and the base for NATO-led forces.

ITALY

Prodi won election, top court says

ROME — Italy’s supreme court yesterday confirmed Romano Prodi’s narrow victory in last week’s general election, dismissing accusations by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of widespread voting irregularities.

The ruling ended days of political stalemate and cleared the way for Mr. Prodi to start work on forming a government, which is unlikely to take office before the second half of May because of a constitutional logjam over the term of the president.

Mr. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, however, refused to concede defeat yesterday, saying other aspects of the April 9-10 election — the closest in modern Italian history — still needed clarifying.

EGYPT

Group of 22 held in bomb plots

CAIRO — The Egyptian government said yesterday that it had arrested a group of 22 Islamists planning bomb attacks on tourist targets, a gas pipeline near Cairo, and Muslim and Christian religious leaders.

The Interior Ministry said the underground organization, led by a 26-year-old humanities student named Ahmed Gabr, called itself the Victorious Group and had members in suburbs northeast and south of the capital.

The opposition Muslim Brotherhood said the government would try to use the arrests to extend emergency law, which otherwise would expire in June after almost 25 years in force.

JORDAN

Hamas denies weapons stash

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas yesterday denied accusations by Jordan that the Islamic militant group had stored weapons on Jordanian territory and said it regretted Amman’s cancellation of a visit by the Palestinian foreign minister.

“Hamas has never targeted Jordan, and it has neither targeted Islamic nor Arab countries or any other country in the world,” the group said, adding that it always had limited its battle to “the Zionist enemy.”

A Jordanian government spokesman said Tuesday that security forces had seized rocket launchers and other weapons from a Hamas cache and had scrapped a visit by Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader.

PAKISTAN

Militants behead suspected informers

PESHAWAR — Pro-Taliban militants beheaded a Pakistani tribesman and fatally shot an Afghan cabdriver said to have been acting as U.S. informers in Pakistan’s restive Waziristan tribal region, officials said yesterday.

The overnight slayings occurred two days after a tribesman’s headless body was found in North Waziristan with a note attached saying the victim was an American spy and warning others of the same fate if they aided the U.S.

The headless corpse found yesterday by the roadside near Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan, had a similar note attached.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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